Hundreds of Hoosier young farmers traveled to Indianapolis this past weekend for the annual Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer Conference, an opportunity for education and networking. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of INFB’s program for young farmers.
Program leaders also announced an updated name at the conference, which puts a stronger focus on the important role agribusiness professionals play in the program. Now referred to as Young Farmers and Ag Professionals, INFB’s grassroots, leadership program is for members under 40 years of age.
As the landscape of agriculture continues to change, with fewer individuals directly involved in production agriculture and more in business roles that support agriculture, the new name symbolizes INFB’s focus on involving all young professionals in the industry.
“With 20 percent of the organization being young farmers, we are going to be growing and expanding,” said Jake Smoker, INFB’s new Young Farmers and Ag Professionals chair. “With agribusiness becoming a more integral part of the organization, their viewpoints are going to continue to be more and more impactful.”
County Farm Bureaus with organized young farmer programs also will take on the new name.
Alongside keynote and breakout sessions, several INFB members and county young farmer programs were honored for their accomplishments in 2018.
For the third year in a row, Spencer County Farm Bureau’s young farmer program was recognized with the Outstanding County Young Farmer Award, given to the top program in the state. One young farmer representative from the county will receive an expenses-paid trip to the American Farm Bureau FUSION Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in March. Johnson and Fulton counties were runners-up.
Vanderburgh County Farm Bureau was recognized as the Most Improved Young Farmer Program this year. This is based on a comparison of activities of the past three years and how the activities and programs of that county’s young farmer program have improved.
Three county young farmer programs were recognized for their contributions to Feeding America, a nonprofit with a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and more. Kosciusko County Farm Bureau donated the most non-perishable food items, a total of 4,600 pounds of food and Whitley County Farm Bureau donated the most money to Feeding America, donating $300. Tippecanoe County Farm Bureau also donated the most time to Feeding America, with 102 hours donated.
Conference attendees also raised money for two other special causes, the Indiana 4-H Foundation and the FFA Foundation. Attendees voted with their wallets to see which INFB member would receive a pie in the face. The People’s Choice Award winner was new INFB Young Farmers and Ag Professionals chair Jake Smoker from LaPorte County. All proceeded benefited the foundations. A live auction and other fundraising activities on Saturday raised the total funds donated to $4,343 for the agriculture youth organizations.
For more information on the program, visit INFB’s website.
Source: Indiana Farm Bureau